“Focus On Paying For Original Content”: Treasurer Slams Google’s Move To Block News Stories

“Focus On Paying For Original Content”: Treasurer Slams Google’s Move To Block News Stories

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg [feature image] has lashed out at Google after the tech giant confirmed it would start burying news content from Nine and News Corp publications for some users.

Yesterday Google confirmed it had launched the ‘experiment’, which will only affect around one per cent of local users, “to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google Search on each other”.

The move to bury news content for certain users comes as Google continues to protest the introduction of the News Media Bargaining Code, which is expected to see both Google and Facebook forced to pay for news content.

Speaking to The Australian, Frydenberg criticised the move from Google.

“Google, Facebook and other digital giants should focus not on blocking users in Australia accessing domestic content, they should focus on paying for it,” he said.

“The digital giants should focus on paying for original content, not blocking it. That’s my message.

“We have introduced legislation, that’s now before a Senate committee, to put in place a world-leading mandatory code to see those digital giants pay traditional news media businesses a fair sum of money for those news media businesses generating original content.

“That is a world-leading scheme we are putting in place. It has been acknowledged not just by regulatory agencies but by other governments around the world.

“It is going to have a final arbitration model in place, and it is going to be a very significant ­advancement for our domestic media businesses.”

Google has repeatedly said it is happy to work with local media businesses under a code – and has even made moves to start paying certain publishers – however, the tech giant has continued to object to the legislation as it stands.

In particular, Google is concerned with the proposed ‘baseball’ arbitration model, which will see both sides put forward a final payment offer, with an independent arbitrator picking one.

“[The code] imposes an unfair and unprecedented baseball arbitration model that considers only publishers’ costs, not Google’s; incentivises publishers to make ambit claims and resort to arbitration rather than good-faith negotiations; assumes that the internet has never required payments for links because of ‘bargaining imbalance’; and requires the decision-maker to choose a single ‘final offer’,” Google Australia and News Zealand VP Mel Silva said last year.

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